Skip to main content

Self-driving Tesla crashes with truck, killing driver – the first known fatality

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Many tech moguls and Silcon Valley hedge fund managers believe that the way of the future is self-driving vehicles.

But this week Tesla acknowledged that a driver using the Autopilot feature was killed in a crash earlier this year, and the NHTSA is now investigating.

Consumerist said the crash actually happened in Florida in May, killing a 45-year-old Ohio man.

The crash happened when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Both Autopilot and the driver didn't notice the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied, Tesla explained in a press release Thursday. The car went under the trailer, with the trailer's bottom hitting the windshield and roof.

And now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is doing a preliminary investigation of the crash, according to Tesla.

The carmaker says this is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was in use. For all vehicles in the United States not on Autopilot, there is a fatality every 94 million miles – worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles, Tesla points out.

The Autopilot feature isn't fully autonomous – drivers are still required to keep their hands on the wheel, but it does take over some driving functions including steering, cruise control and lane changes, Consumerist explained. Tesla warns the expectation is "you need to maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle” the entire time.

The self-driving car market

Apple, Uber and Google are just some of the companies racing to have the first mass-produced self driving cars on the road.

But the only way people will buy into the luxury of hands-free commuting is if they feel safe.

Self-driving cars could save 300,000 lives a decade in America, according to the Atlantic, but humans are generally bad at assessing true dangers when it comes to technology.

A Slate article detailed how people evaluate risk with emotion, rather than logical calculation, especially when it comes to judgements around new technology such as self-driving vehicles.

Still, there is plenty of interest in Tesla cars in the Twin Cities.

About 200 people waited outside of the Eden Prairie Tesla dealership in March to put their name down for the company’s latest car, the Model 3. Every Tesla Model 3 comes with the beta of Autopilot installed (although you have to pay $3,000 to activate it), Tech Insider reported.

Next Up

Tettegouche State Park bridge

Trails reopen as waters subside, but bridges damaged at Tettegouche State Park

Water levels on the river have dropped about six to eight feet since Friday.

Keith Harvell

Body pulled from Mississippi River ID'd as missing Elk River man

Keith Harvell had been missing since early last month.

900 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota - July 2021

2 victims identified in double-fatal north Minneapolis shooting

A 21-year-old man and a 51-year-old man were identified as the people who died at the scene this past weekend.

Proctor football

Former Proctor HS football player pleads guilty to sexual assault of teammate

The case will also remain in juvenile court, with conditions.

Doug Wardlow

Doug Wardlow reneges on promise, will challenge GOP's AG candidate in primary

Wardlow's announcement sparked swift criticism from the MN GOP and the party-endorsed candidate, Jim Schultz.

Flickr - welcome to minnesota sign - Tony Webster

US News '150 Best Places to Live' features 1 from MN, 3 from WI

The latest US News list is for the most populous metro areas only, so no small towns.

tornado

7 tornadoes touched down last week in western MN, ND

Two of the seven were EF-2 level tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, May 17

72 hours of case data reported over the weekend is included in Tuesday updates.

Stallings surveillance footage - screengrab - crop

City of Minneapolis, Jaleel Stallings reach $1.5M settlement

Although a settlement was made, the city will not admit fault or take any responsibility for the incident as part of the agreement with Stallings.

Kayak

2 rescued after kayaks capsize on Sauk River

Recent heavy rainfall produced a strong currents on the water.

Related

Minnesota driver who crashed his Tesla blames the car's autopilot feature

This isn't the first time Tesla's autopilot feature has been blamed in a crash.